University attorneys file to dismiss parts of former professor’s lawsuit

The University attempted to dismiss portions of a former professor’s lawsuit against GW last week, arguing that the professor’s amended complaint fails to state a claim that can result in relief being granted.

Attorneys for the University requested Friday that a U.S. District Court judge dismiss Counts I and III of former School of Engineering and Applied Science professor Richard Soland’s lawsuit.

Soland, who was a professor of operations research for SEAS, is suing GW for failing to notify him of an upcoming school-wide SEAS buyout program while he was in the process of taking an individual buyout.

This is the second time GW has attempted to dismiss Soland’s lawsuit. In February, University attorneys filed a dismissal request against the first count of Soland’s original complaint. That count alleged the University engaged in a breach of fiduciary duty, and misrepresentation and estoppel pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 – a federal law that sets minimum standards for pension plans in private industry.

The second count was a claim for benefits pursuant to ERISA, to which the University responded.

Soland’s amended complaint filed March 8 included the original two counts and a third. Count III alleged negligent misrepresentation occurred, with GW, former Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Lehman, and Lehman’s office failing to give Soland correct information when he asked about a voluntary separation package, court documents state.

Soland claimed the University didn’t tell him the SEAS Voluntary Separation Incentive Plan was being planned as he made his decision to retire in 2008. In response, GW denied that any SEAS-wide voluntary separation plan was “in the works” in November 2008, according to court documents.

The professor retired at the end of December 2009, but claims in court documents had he known about the upcoming buyout he would have remained employed another five months and been eligible to receive $325,306 in severance benefits.

Christopher Weals, one of the University’s attorneys, has declined to comment, as his firm doesn’t comment on pending litigation. Soland’s attorney, Jason Ehrenberg, also has declined to comment on the pending litigation.

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